Instagram isn’t only gorgeous, but also has a great user engagement rate. In itself a great example of a startup, Instagram is, together with Facebook and Twitter, one of the most startup-friendly social networks for new businesses in many markets, but especially for those with many visual products and services. Whether you’re selling handcrafted products, interior decoration services, or some other type of product or service, Instagram can help your startup become more visible and better known.
Post at least once or twice a day
Keeping your Instagram feed active is one of the ways you can increase engagement. You can post more often than that if you have many great images or videos to share – many big brands active on Instagram post several times a day – but do allow a period of a few hours between updates so as not to overwhelm your audience with content, or worse, to look spammy. Once you establish a posting schedule, maintain it, to build a sense of expectancy.
Make the most of your profile link
Instagram gives you only one link – choose it with care. A safe approach to drive more traffic to your site is to link to your homepage or blog. However, when you’re running special campaigns, have an upcoming event, or want to promote a new social media page, you may want to use that link to direct your audience to a special landing page.
Add depth to your images with captions and hashtags
Keep your captions concise and blend them in with relevant hashtags that make your Instagram content easier to discover. Studies have shown that posts with around 10 hashtags generate more engagement than those with fewer or more hashtags. Remember that using too many hashtags dilutes their power and can end up confusing your followers.
Choose your hashtags carefully
When using hashtags, you want to find a right mix between hashtags that are relevant to your startup, hashtags that describe the content and theme of a specific post, and trending hashtags. The important thing is to keep an eye on your hashtags and the engagement they generate, and to tweak them in time.
Take your pictures square
Square pictures are easier to crop and scale down in Instagram while ensuring that elements of them don’t go missing. Whether you’re snapping your Instagram-bound photos on your iPhone or digital camera, your device has a square pictures aspect ratio option.
Respond to comments and mentions
As with any social network, connecting with your fans and followers helps increase engagement and makes your Instagram page more lively. When replying to comments, answer first the questions you get, and try to resolve complaints in a friendly manner. Also, try to answer thoughtful comments, even when you don’t have that much to add – it shows that you care about your audience.
Make exclusive offers
One of the most effective ways to drive engagement as well as to show appreciation for your followers is to share with them exclusive, Instagram-only offers they cannot get anywhere else. You can get as creative with these as you want.
Organize image-based contests
Instagram is great for image-based contests because so many of its users are mobile, proud owners of a very convenient smartphone camera. Ask your customers to photograph themselves using your product in outrageous ways or to share with the world their reaction after using your services. These contests are fun and very social by their nature, so that they attract people like a magnet, provided of course that you offer some nice prizes, and perhaps some freebies as well.
Curating content on Instagram is easier than on other social networks. Regramm meaningful photos relevant to your niche shared by organizations and individuals (anyone will do, so long as they are not your direct competitors). Also, share images instagrammed by your followers.
Use analytics to monitor the numbers
Monitor hashtags, geotags, comments, regramms, and activity patterns. Instagram’s basic analytics are a good starting tool, and then you can move to more advanced analytics.
However you choose to use Instagram to market your startup, don’t forget that Instagram is a social network, not a dedicated marketing platform, and that your emphasis should be on posting great content and fostering interactions, rather than on directly promoting your brand.